Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, there were about 1.2 million small businesses operating in Illinois. Those businesses employed 2.5 million people, or about half of the state’s entire workforce.

As the state begins to reopen, getting employees back on the job safely and effectively is a top priority. To make that happen, the Illinois Department of Labor is launching Back to Business Illinois, a free, voluntary service that connects small businesses of 250 employees or less with consultants who will help them address workplace safety and health issues related to the coronavirus and create a plan to ensure a safe, healthy and productive environment for employees and visitors. These one-hour confidential consultations take place virtually, via teleconference.

This is a non-punitive program, and no fines or citations are associated with it. It is designed entirely as a benefit to empower Illinois small businesses to get back to business safely.

The Illinois Department of Labor also offers a free, voluntary “Back to Business” certification, which is designed to show employees and visitors that necessary measures have been addressed to keep them safe and healthy. Businesses can voluntarily complete a series of modules online and institute the necessary practices to ensure they are promoting a safe work environment and operating responsibly. The online guidance and education program will emphasize areas including basic infection prevention, physical space modification, infectious disease planning, employee monitoring and workplace flexibility.